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SHAKTI PERSPECTIVES

Arjun - Co founder Inaam Money

TW: death and sorrow


My father was one of South Africa’s most successful entrepreneurs in pharmaceuticals. Unfortunately, he wasn’t very good with managing his money. Other than his business he didn’t know how or where to invest his money. This resulted in him making a very poor investment - which inadvertently ended up costing him his entire life’s savings in the millions…and 5 years later, his life. 


Learning to have healthy conversations about money with simple tricks like talking about proportions instead of absolutes to make the conversation more palatable is one potential way to mitigate financial stress. Another is sharing healthy money habits. Believe it or not the truth is NO ONE knows what the f*ck their doing with their money because we hold it so close to the vest. Your best guess is as good as mine or “this is what dad told me to do,” “this is how my mom managed her money” “my grandfather said we should do this.” Money works differently for everyone there is no one size fits all approach. Recognising this is the first step. Having healthy conversations about money is the next step. Collaborating in managing your money is the final one. Having difficult conversations about credit, debt and planning now, short term pain vs long term gains is how we help each other. So, to make sure finances are not a heavy burden. TALK ABOUT IT. PLAN. EXECUTE and be DISCIPLINED! If you need help, ASK - reach out to me if you have to, I’m no expert but I can share what NOT to do which also helps.


 Not knowing how or where to invest cost us everything. As a young person who now had to take care of his mother, I found myself in the same situation. I did not know how or where to invest my money. So, I took it upon myself to make sure that no family would ever have to go through something like this ever again. 


Today I’m grateful to be able to deliver on that vision day in and day out with my incredible co-founder and team at Inaam. Where we help young people that do not know how or where to invest their money to do so with an impact. At Inaam we’re reinventing investing to change the world - one curated impact portfolio at a time. 


We embed investment literacy throughout our investment process to develop the next generation of conscious investors. You can even track your impact $ for $. The buck doesn’t stop there though, at Inaam we reinvest a portion of our own profits back into the impact ecosystem to support people and women of colour, young people from disadvantaged backgrounds with the skill set, education, empowerment, and employment that they need to build a better future for themselves and those around them. This is not charity or philanthropy these are reinvestments for commercial gain in the future of our people. 


*End shameless plug*. Financial stress is a direct result of poor financial and investment literacy. While we’re busy learning about Pythagoras we should in fact be being taught how to efficiently file our taxes. This is a systemic change which will take time - and so the only real way to alleviate financial stress is to break the barriers and the “taboo” around talking about money. 



South Asian culture along with deeply rooted and often unconscious intergenerational trauma sadly sometimes means that South Asian men aren’t even aware that they are “not okay.” Through no fault of anyone involved, we have been fed a narrative of no matter what is going on we’ve got to be okay and push on. 


I know this and have experienced first-hand because when my father passed right before my eyes and paramedics were in the house, just before they made the call the only thing going through my mind was: “Okay. What now? How do I take care of my mother, what are the next steps we need to take to survive? Papa was the only breadwinner, we were neck deep in debt, I was still studying, how would we put food on the table?”


This is not okay; I was not okay. But it’s taken me over 6 years to realise that it would have been okay for me to be vulnerable in that moment. Instead, I would try to find isolated moments when no one was around just so that I could cry or to shed a tear, I never truly mourned the passing of my father. The greatest light and inspiration in my life. All I knew was that I had to be there for my mother and had to do everything to make sure she was okay just like my father did.


I have since taken time to reflect on his passing after multiple conversations with my mother and my closest friends asking me to “open up” - a very foreign concept to me might I add, hypnotherapists, western psychologists, psychiatrists, antidepressants, GPs, yoga, meditation and of course the infamous “get out there and exercise” (while I’m at it I might throw in some books - Crushing It by Gary Vaynerchuk, Start with Why by Simon Sinek, The Hard Thing About Hard Things and Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck). 

  

To answer the question of how we can encourage South Asian men to speak up when they are not okay, South Asian mental health still has some catching up to do to the Western world. The tools and support network still need to be developed. While in first world countries like Australia, there is deep awareness about mental health, and it has reached the inflection point of “enough talking about the thing” it’s time to start doing something about it. In South Asian communities, at least more traditional ones, mental health, and illness is still being discovered as a valid psychosocial problem. Which means identifying it is not always as obvious. Which means talking about it doesn’t happen as organically.


So encouraging South Asian men to speak is therefore a direct factor of awareness the first “tool”, the more men are made aware of mental health the more they will be able to first recognise that they are not okay which can then start sparking conversations where they speak up in their circles who in turn are also made aware of mental health - it’s a domino effect, but someone or something needs to tip the first domino to snowball the effect in these communities at large - which is why I am personally a huge supporter of Shakti as we need this, I needed this 6 years ago, I am grateful for my support network otherwise avenues of demise were all around me (alcohol, nicotine, drugs etc to “help me cope”).


The encouragement really is a matter of awareness. Get out there talk about it, talk about empathy over sympathy, talk about vulnerability, talk about the things that really make us strong, not big d*cks and arms but optimism over positivity, discipline over idealism and most importantly acceptance over masking. 



One thing that I have found that has really worked for my self-care is food (paired with some good old cardio). This includes, cooking it, eating it, watching it being cooked and origin stories of pesto from the Insider Eats channel on YouTube. There is something therapeutic about desi cooking and Italian cooking that just feeds the soul. Seeing how a cluster of completely different ingredients, textures and flavours can come together to make one delicious culmination in your mouth is science that exceeds the James Webb telescope for me. 


It also helps take my focus completely off of anything else and focus on making a good dish, garnished and presented Master Chef style - sure it might take me a little longer to plate up dinner but it gives me the space I need to get my mind off of anything else and also makes sure I don’t lose any fingers thinking about my fund raiser for Inaam while I should in fact be chopping those onions. 


Accessibility to culturally competent mental health has been challenging. Many a time, tried and tested practices and principles may not be effective simply because they are based on assumptions that don’t apply to our unique culture. 


Positive interactions have surprisingly come from my friends who have always been open to lending an ear and just letting me speak. (I can talk a lot and sometimes feel guilty of making every conversation about myself) however the flip side of not saying any of what I’m thinking results in far worse consequences, so knowing my friends will listen without judging me or considering me a burden has been one of the most positive interactions on my mental health journey. A “safe space” is not just a buzz word it’s a real thing and having one is super important. 


So go out there and find those that are there for YOU not for themselves.


Final thoughts

Young people are the heart and soul of the future. They are also facing the most challenging and unprecedented present from a social, environmental, financial, and economic standpoint. 


Ensuring that there is an adequate and robust support network to guide them through these times is essential. Acknowledging the need for such a support network is even more crucial. 

Acknowledging that times have changed from a couple of decades ago to know that advice from a time bygone may not apply to today is another crucial need for any support given to young people. 


An African proverb says - if you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far, go together. Mental health is a journey that can only be taken together - don’t leave anyone behind. 


The simplest of things can help change people’s lives. A simple “hello” with a smile can make the world of difference in someone’s life. Nothing is beneath nor beyond you, be kind always, no matter what, life will reward you with kindness too. Be humble, be grateful, be human first and then be everything else you have the potential to be. Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about, so be the shield the world needs, there are daggers everywhere else. We have immense potential and it’s about time we unlocked it together. (I am Indian so writing this piece without a Bollywood reference would be blasphemy - IYKYK -” Phatela jab sil jaayega. Jo chaahega mil jaayega. Rukne ka nahi, thakne ka nahi. Life mein chalte rehne ka”

Inaam Money